No. 8 Westminster holds off Northern-Calvert for unbeaten season, second straight 3A state boys lacrosse title (VIDEO HERE!)

by Nelson Coffin

In last year’s Class 3A boys lacrosse state championship game, Westminster High was demonstrably a better team than Northern of Calvert County.

In the 2019 finale, the gap between the two teams shrunk significantly.

Not that the result changed, considering that the Owls won both contests, 12-8 last spring and 9-8 on Wednesday at Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County, with the latter triumph extending the newly-crowned two-time state champs’ winning streak to 37.

The Covey twins, junior midfielder Conner and junior goalie Logan, took turns making sure a repeat was in order for the No. 8 Owls in tense moments against the much-improved Patriots.

Logan made 11 saves, several of which were crucial down the stretch, while his brother scored his game-high fifth goal of the game and 40th of the season on a feed from senior attackman Bubba Love with just over five minutes left in regulation to secure the winning margin.

That said, some tense moments followed to be sure, including overcoming an extra-man situation in the final 18 seconds.

One Patriot shot caught a pipe while several others zipped high or wide as the Carroll County school (19-0 overall) won its third state championship in seven seasons.

“Whew, love that pipe,” Logan said with an impish grin. “The pipe’s a goalie’s best friend.”

Westminster coach Steve DeFeo said that he knew Northern would not be a pushover.

“We knew that they had a lot of talent and a lot of fight,” he said. “They weren’t going to quit. They played like they were playing for a championship.”

The Owls jumped out to a 3-0 first-quarter lead on a three-goal splurge by Conner Covey and then answered a goal by Northern freshman attackman Coy Mills when Logan made a clutch save and then found teammate Christian Etchison heading toward midfield.

The senior midfielder raced down the left alley and deposited a shot over Northern keeper Alex Sheehan’s shoulder to make it, 4-1.

The Patriots (18-2) nearly caught up by notching three of the next four goals to make it, 5-4, with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.

Northern junior attackman Zach DeToto had the first two goals of the run before Love netted one for the Owls.

Junior midfielder Markie Nicholson brought the Patriots to within a goal before Conner Covey launched his fourth goal ion the half to give the Owls a 6-4 buffer at the intermission.

They expanded the advantage to 8-4 late in the third quarter when junior midfielder Evan Park finished a feed from Conner Covey on a slick fast break and Etchison swiveled past several defenders to beat Sheehan from the doorstep.

The Patriots found a couple of answers, though, when back-to-back goals by junior midfielder John Sulier and Mills made it an 8-6 deficit heading into a tense final period.

Sulier nailed another shot to pull the Patriots within 8-7 early in the fourth quarter before Conner Covey turned Love’s feed into a man-up goal.

Northern had one more retort left when Mills struck again after taking a pass and rolling the crease for the game’s final gaol with just over three minutes to go.

After several eventful moments during which Logan Covey blocked a couple of shots, the Owls were able to hang on.

“When two really good teams go against each other, it’s often a one-goal game,” Northern coach Joe Casalino said. “We hit a couple of pipes, and if they go in, we win. If one goes in, we go to overtime. But I’m sure they feel the same way — that there were a couple of things that didn’t go their way.”

Conner Covey, who also scored five goals in a 16-6 semifinal win over James Bennett, said that the Owls have a one-track mind.

“Everyone knows what the goal is at the beginning of the season,” he said. “We demand that perfection from ourselves.”

WHS 4 2 2 1 — 9
NC 2 2 2 2 — 8
Goals: WHS-Conner Covey 5, Christian Etchison 2, Bubba Love, Evan Park; NC-Coy Mills 3, John Sulier 2, Zach DeToto 2, Markie Nicholson.
Assists: WHS-Christian Etchison, Bubba Love, Conner Covey, Chase Buckwalter; NC-Matt Holland 3, Markie Nicholson, Kyle Rizzo.
Saves: WHS-Logan Covey 11; NC-Alex Sheehan 9